Lotte Arai, Japan’s flash new resort is still for powder poachers
The initial word about a new resort area in the Myoko Kogen region of Honshu, Japan wasn’t exactly that enticing.
Firstly, Lotte Arai, or Arai as it was formerly known, was actually a fully functioning resort up until its closure in 2006.
Secondly while refurbished hotels (the centrepiece of the ski area) get some people going, as a bit of dirtbag at heart I often find the sell on these things about as enticing as watching snowboard PGS.
But in the days leading up to my visit, any mention of Lotte Arai to those who’d been there was generally met with a knowing nod and simple acknowledgement I can best sum up as: “this place is the goods”.
There’s not much need to duck ropes in Madarao. Why? Because unlike a lot of Japanese resorts there simply aren’t that many.
In skiing as in life, you tend to look for quality over quantity as the years roll by.
While the Chamonixs, Revelstokes and Whistlers of this world have their lengthy charms there’s a lot to be said for the small, uncrowded ski hills that pack plenty more in their size suggests.
- I’ve been to a few good ‘uns over the years such as Whitewater in British Columbia and Moiwa in Hokkaido.
Now I’m happy to add another little fire cracker to the list: Madarao.
Some say it’s the powder.
Some say it’s the culture and food.
Some say it’s the ease of access when coming from down under.
But if you want to know how Japan really sticks a dagger into the side of most other countries’ ski resorts, this frame from the Nozawa Onsen ticket office sums it up.
It’s on snow. It’s a minute walk to a ski run. It’s only one bedroom but set-up to sleep six people. It has two bathrooms. It looks neat and tidy.
It’s up for sale at $A42,000.
So what’s the catch?
Sleeping pods have long been the rage in Japan, where accommodation, particularly of the affordable variety in Tokyo, can be at a premium. With The Capsule Hotel just opened up in Sydney and one getting constructed in Whistler, would this be a good solution to some of Australia’s snow-commodation problems?
We’ve all been there.
A cracking weekend in the middle of August and it’s just dropped a couple of feet midweek.
You frantically hit the computer to look for an available place. Computer says no.
No on snow, no 30km up the road. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Things are so desperate you would probably sleep in a room little bigger than a single bed that looks like something from the Alien franchise. I know I would. And perhaps one day you may be able to …